Hustle, familiarity of common failures keep A-Affordable Transmission humming
Sheridan, Colo.—If you blink, you might miss him.
“Hustle” is the operative word at A-Affordable Transmission Center in Sheridan, says Randal Paul, vice president, and it’s how work gets in and out the door.
“I’m running all day long,” he said, adding that fast turnaround times, timely customer service and updates, fair pricing, and effective marketing are also what make A-Affordable Transmission Center tick. “And hustle. I’m very active and involved with the customer, most of whom become close friends. They can count on me to call them with updates every day — I’m adamant about that.”
A-Affordable offers a complete range of domestic, foreign, car, truck, and SUV transmission services, as well as other powertrain repairs such as clutch, front and rear differential, and transfer case work, Paul said. The 5,200-square-foot facility is the largest of the company’s two locations (the other is in Thornton), and has seven bays equipped with Ben Pearson and Challenger lifts.
He said A-Affordable has four technicians at its Sheridan location and three technicians at the Thornton shop.
Paul said 20 to 30 percent of its work is wholesale for dealerships, fleets, and shops, and it performs a “substantial amount” of repairs to A604s found in Chrysler mini-vans, 4L60E in 1/2-ton Chevy trucks, and E40D/4R100 in Fords.
“There are also common transmission pattern failures such as Audi’s ZF5HP24, which has a bearing that blows up on every one,” Paul said. “A typical issue on a 4L60E is a 3-4 clutch fail. There are very specific patterns, so we’ve learned what to expect when we open one up after we’ve driven it.”
Most of the technicians’ training is acquired on the shop floor, though staff will glean information from Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association (ATRA) seminars sponsored through suppliers. “The majority of it, however, comes out of the trenches,” he said.
A-Affordable also relies on AllData, Automatic Transmission Service Group (ATSG), and an extensive, in-house technical library. “We save everything and have built it up over the years,” Paul said.
A-Affordable President Ron Shaw devised the shop’s business model, which is a menu board of repair options customers can choose from, with different choices of parts and corresponding work warranties, Paul said. “When we replace hard parts we can use either used, rebuilt, or new, which we always leave up to the customer. We don’t rebuild the entire transmission if it doesn’t have to be. We fix what just needs to be fixed, which really helps keep our customers’ costs down,” he said.
“It’s not a high-pressure sales environment, it’s whatever is best for the customer’s needs,” Paul said. “Most of our business is repeat or referral. We also see a lot of success with our website through organic listings and pay-per-click advertising. We dropped all Yellow Page listings two years ago.”
The best-laid plans in a transmission shop can often go awry, but Paul has a solution for that, as well. “It can change on a dime, despite planning out my entire day, if a customer comes in with an unexpected problem or there are parts delivery issues. And this intense summer heat is bringing in a lot of business right now — but we get it done with hustle, adaptability, and just pure enthusiasm.”